College Football Week Four Picks
Losses by USC and Oregon have left the Pac-12 wide open and two top contenders vie for top position in the conference in this one. UCLA has got off to a fast start behind the arm of true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen. Though, Rosen had a rough going against BYU last week and the Wildcats will present a number of ball hawking defensive backs to the equation. UCLA also has a wonderful running back at their disposal in underrated Paul Perkins. Although not the most explosive athlete on the field, Perkins is a wonderful back with excellent vision who has 429 yards and three scores through the Bruins first three games. Expect an even bigger day from Perkins considering the fact that the Wildcats are without their top run stopper, linebacker Scooby Wright, who is still out for at least a couple of weeks. While the Bruins are sure to stir up big plays with Perkins and Rosen, Arizona has a proven explosive offense of their own. Quarterback Anu Solomon continues to put up big numbers and will once more lead the way. Joining him will be explosive running back Nick Wilson along with a number of big play receivers that can change the game every time they catch. UCLA's defense will also be without their most important piece; just yesterday Myles Jack was diagnosed with a torn meniscus, which will end his 2015 season very early. Considering he is a pretty big name for the 2016 NFL Draft, Jack may have played his final game in a Bruins' uniform. The Bruins will certainly miss the linebacker's versatility and playmaking ability in the middle of the field. Without him on the second level of the defense, UCLA will become a lot more susceptible to the big play from Wilson and other Wildcats. This game has all the makings of a classic Pac-12 shootout. While both teams have talent on the defensive side of the ball both offenses have enough playmakers and will be prepared enough to put together a huge day. UCLA can certainly get a huge win if Rosen plays to his potential, but I actually like Arizona in this one. Solomon is more experienced in Pac-12 play by a large margin and he has proven he can win big games. Plus, 'Zona gets to play in front of the home folks.
Arizona, 42 UCLA, 34
13 Oregon Ducks vs. 18 Utah Utes 7:30 pm (CT) on FOX
Kicking off less than an hour later and occuring quite a bit northbound of the UCLA-Arizona duel, the Oregon-Utah matchup should also have a major impact on the Pac-12. The Ducks lone lose of the year came against Michigan State on the road, and they are eager to prove they are still a legit Playoff contender. Meanwhile, the Utes have played very well to begin the year, which included a great performance in their opener against Michigan. Oregon's offense has not took their foot off the gas pedal whatsoever to begin the year. Sophomore back Royce Freeman continues to put up gaudy numbers while the Ducks have also found a number of proven threats on the perimeter, including Bralon Addison and converted back Byron Marshall. The questions may come at quarterback; Vernon Adams missed this past week against Georgia State with a broken finger but appears ready to go in this one. Adams has played well to begin the year but missed some big throws against Michigan State and the Utes bring a number of physical defensive players to the equation. Even if Adams is just "80 percent" the Ducks should still be able to put up a lot of points on the scoreboard. Utah isn't the typical, up-tempo, speed team that usually finds itself in the Pac-12 South but they find ways to move the ball anyways. Having proven back Devontae Booker, who has 345 and four scores, certainly helps. Not the most explosive athlete, Booker is a workhorse who possesses excellent vision. The biggest issue for a long time for Utah has been the lack of a truly dangerous passing game. An experienced quarterback, Travis Wilson, has played well in some big moments but is still not going to strike fear into most opposing defenses with his arm. Though, he presents a challenge as a runner and Oregon will have to spies and extra help against him. Wilson will have his hands full against an aggressive Oregon defense that includes senior defensive linemen DeForest Buckner and playmaking Joe Walker. Though, the Ducks' secondary as a whole as not been superb this season and Wilson will hope to take advantage of this, especially in play action. The Utes likely don't have the offensive firepower to compete with the Ducks (unless Booker has the game of his life) but even so, they could have a chance at an upset if they can force some turnovers and play sound defensively. Though, while that is a possibility, Oregon is the safer pick here.
Oregon, 35 Utah, 23
3 TCU Horned Frogs vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders 3:45 pm (CT) on FOX
A year ago, TCU proved just how far their offense and team had come with a 82-27 shelling of a Texas Tech, who would flounder to a 4-8 mark. TCU will threaten to keep the scoreboard operators busy once more in this one, but Texas Tech's hot start has proven they have enough to keep things very interesting against the Big 12 favorite. The Horned Frogs will be led by many of the same faces as last year's blowout, the most notable being senior QB Trevone Boykin. Boykin is still a popular Heisman candidate and his big arm and ability to make plays with his legs gives defenses serious issues. He will be joined by explosive Aaron Green in the backfield, along with deep threat receivers in Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee. The Horned Frogs were handed all they wanted offensively by the Red Raiders a year ago, but TTU should be better prepared and more disciplined this time around. On the other side, Texas Tech has a budding star at quarterback in their own right, and a guy who has put his name in the Heisman conversation. In the Red Raiders first three games Patrick Mahomes has dazzled with 1,029 yards and nine touchdowns, punishing every defense he has seen. Plus, Mahomes is coming off a week in which he dominated a respected Arkansas defense on the road, so he was riding a major wave of momentum. DeAndre Washington is a threat to make big plays at back and Jakeem Grant will be Mahomes' go-to option through the air. Texas Tech could also take advantage of TCU's weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball. The Frogs lost so much leadership and experience this summer and while they have played decent early, they could be exposed against the speed of this Texas Tech offense. Safety Derrick Kindred is the unquestioned leader of the TCU defense and the senior will have to have a big game in order to slow down the Red Raiders' attack. Just last week, Texas Tech avenged a loss from 2014-2015 by taking down Bret Bielema and Arkansas. Can they get vengeance once more by pulling off what would be a huge upset against TCU? If they don't turn the ball over and Mahomes continues to play well this team certainly has a great shot. No matter what the result one thing is clear: offense is not going to be hard to come by in this one.
TCU, 49 Texas Tech, 44
22 BYU, 35 Michigan, 31
8 LSU, 27 Syracuse, 13
1 Ohio State, 37 Western Michigan, 12
14 Texas A&M, 31 Arkansas, 20
Tennessee, 28 Florida, 17
Current Picks Record: 18-6